SNAP pushing for public awareness of abuse by priests - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SNAP pushing for public awareness of abuse by priests

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says they want the public to be aware of seven credibly accused Catholic clerics who have worked in Georgia, but haven't been publicly called out until now.

The SNAP representatives WTOC spoke to want the names of those priests out there, in case there are any victims who might not have come forward yet. SNAP representatives gave WTOC the names of seven clerics who at one time worked in Georgia, some in the Diocese of Savannah, who have been credibly accused of crimes against children in other states, but not necessarily Georgia.

"They have all worked here. They are not necessarily Savannah diocesan priests. But order priests like Jesuits, move freely about the country. And if they are working here, they only work here with the permission of the bishop. And so therefore, he is responsible for crimes they committed here,” said SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris.

Most notably of the seven, a Father Donald McGuire, a convicted Jesuit priest who was Mother Teresa's spiritual advisor, according to SNAP. McGuire led three retreats in central Georgia in the late 1990's. And from 2000 to 2003, two Georgia families wrote Catholic Church officials in Savannah about McGuire's suspected sexual and psychological abuse of their teens.

The SNAP team say they have requested several things of the Diocese of Savannah. One, is that the Church permanently post on all their websites the names of all predator priests who have worked or lived – or now work or live – in the diocese.

One of the requests SNAP has for the Diocese of Savannah is to spread the word about a relatively new Georgia law, House Bill 17, which allows child sex abuse victims to file civil lawsuits against those who commit or conceal sexual violence.

"We have made these requests a number of times. And for the most part, we have been ignored. And at some point you say, all right, we need to do more. Because we fear children are at risk, survivors are suffering. So, you can ask, and we will continue to ask. But you must, if you are reasonable and experienced, you have to say all right, I have to take a different tactic,” said Dorris.

Boston native Michael Corbett is a victim of clergy abuse, and is part of the effort to bring to light other instances of abuse, and the clerics responsible. 

"When you don't talk about it, it eats away at your insides, until it almost kills you," said Corbett. "One of the reasons I am here today, is to show a local face, to encourage other people locally to come forward, not necessarily to have a press conference, but to start talking about it. Because that's the most helpful thing.”

Corbett says the newly released movie "Spotlight" strengthened his desire to continue the cause.

"It brings back a lot for me. I was in one of the spotlight articles, that was one of the events that helped me come forward the second time. So that's been on my mind a lot the last few months,” said Corbett.

A representative of the Diocese of Savannah says they have no statement to release regarding the seven names of accused priests given to WTOC by SNAP Monday. 

According to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the names of the seven priests are:

  • Fr. Donald J. McGuire, a high profile, now convicted Jesuit who was Mother Teresa's spiritual advisor. He led three retreats in central Georgia in the 1990s. Attendees included Savannah area potential seminarians. From 2000 to 2003, to Georgia families whose teenage sons worked as personal servants to Fr. Maguire wrote Savannah church officials describing the teens "being shown pornography, sharing a bed with Fr. McGuire, nudity, psychological abuse, sexual teasing as well as other suspected sexual abuse.
  • Fr. Jonathan W. Franklin, a Benedictine Who committed suicide before his criminal trial on charges of sexual he assaulting a 12-year-old boy. (He worked in Savannah, Atlanta, Florida and Louisiana.)
  • Fr. Charles G. Coyle, a Jesuit Who was suspended and is accused of molesting at least two boys and spent time in Boston Massachusetts, Houston Texas, Mobile Alabama, New Orleans Louisiana and Baltimore Maryland. (He was in Atlanta from 1991-1995 at the Ignatius House.)
  • Fr. Charles Arnold Bartles, a Jesuit Who worked in Kansas, Florida, Alaska, Louisiana, Jamaica and Brazil and was accused of molesting at least one child in 2010. (He was in Atlanta at the Marist School from 1972-78.)
  • Fr. Anthony "Tony" Jablonowski, Who worked or lived in Arizona, Florida and Ohio and pleaded no contest to 2004 charges of abusing a teenager, and had to register as a sex offender. (He worked at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Clarksville, GA in the Atlanta archdiocese.)
  • Fr. Robert D. Huneke, Who faces at least three child sex abuse reports and was included in a grand jury investigation report in New York. (Around 2002, he worked as a high school guidance counselor in Atlanta at the Marist school.)
  • Fr. William Groves, Who is now at a church despite having pled guilty two felony abuse of a boy and allegedly sheltering "runaway Indian and Hispanic kids and giving them drugs and alcohol." (He received sex abuse counseling at a center in Atlanta in the 1990s, according to the Denver Post.")

All are listed on either www.bishop-accountability.org or www.snapnetwork.org.

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